By Kristin Smith
At six years old, Paige Koch was already an interior designer. When her parents were out of sight, she would rearrange all the furniture, configuring the spaces to her own artistic vision. Her favorite design: putting her bed toe-to-toe with her sister’s and placing a table with white linen between them so they could comfortably have breakfast in bed.
Paige wasn’t the only one in her family with an eye for design. Her mother had a unique home decorating style and a refined, classic fashion sense. “When I think back to our home, I realize how ahead of her time she was. She had a creative sensibility,” says Koch. “I credit my mother for all of my gifts.”
Koch’s gifts are far-reaching and diverse. Before launching her successful interior design firm, Paige Koch Designs, she was a painter with degrees in Russian and Chinese history. One can see the impact of these focuses in her work today, which incorporates both antiquities and modern designs.
Like her grandmother, Koch has a passion for travel and a love of languages. “My grandmother lived on three continents and spoke five languages. She is an absolute inspiration,” says Koch, who has a goal of learning a new language every five years. Koch is already fluent in French and splits her time between her studios in San Francisco and Paris.
In her twenties, a trip to Paris solidified Koch’s decision to become an interior designer. “I realized I wanted a family. And I wanted a career that would allow me to take my kids to school and come back and work on something I was passionate about. I asked myself, ‘What will I love to do for the rest of my life?’” The answer was clear.
Koch went back to school, this time trading canvas for fabric. She studied interior design and worked for another local designer. Within a few years, she launched her own firm, and she hasn’t slowed down. Koch has worked with clients around the globe—from San Francisco to Hong Kong to Senegal. “Within 18 months of starting interior design, I knew I was in the right place,” says Koch. “Everything just evolved so smoothly, and it incorporated so many of my passions into one career.”
Koch describes the evolution of her work much the same as her life. Everything moves in a circle, she says. For Koch, life and work moves from one thing to the other, rather than just stopping and starting.
She offers another, even more detailed metaphor. “I think you can compare life to cooking,” she says. “You have all of these burners on and you have to tend to each one, each part of the dish. If you forget about one, it burns or goes cold. You have to pay attention to all of it.”
The balance is important to Koch. Despite having design studios on two continents, Koch still finds time to tend to her other art form, painting. For her, painting has always been a form of relaxation. “Painting is what I always return to.”